Jun 28, 2010

Buckeillgalupian Goodness Arrives July 6th

No that's not a race of metaphorically altered humans straight out of Gulliver's Travels 2: Steampunk Boogaloo. It's what you get when you combine up-and-coming authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell.

Like Bradgelina, but... I'm so sorry...

A few months back, the news broke that Buckell and Bacigalupi were writting a pair of fantasy novellas set in the same shared universe. He compared it to those old Ace paperbacks which were two SF novellas published back-to-back. Sounds cool, no?

Today, Buckell mentioned that the pair of novellas, entitled The Alchemist and The Executioness will be available on July 6th in audio format on Audible.com. Sounds a lot like Metatropolis, which Buckell also worked on. Now, I'm not a huge fan of audio (can't concentrate on just audio without closing my eyes, which leads to in-insomnia but for certain projects its worth the time. Still, how awesome would it be to see a resurgence of those doublesided books?

I don't have any more details on the actual story itself but given the work these two have put out it should be high quality. And Bacigalupian fantasy could be very, very interesting to say the least. I'll be listening.

Update: Buckell has provided a short Twitter blurb:

Short version: A world where magic has unintended consequences, a father struggles to save his world and a mother sets out on a quest of a vengeance.
Not much to go on but unintended consequences sounds fun and makes me think of the magic in Pushing Daisies.

Jun 25, 2010

Hannu Rajaniemi to the US!

Making the rounds on Twitter this morning when I saw some good news for Worth Watching Author Hannu Rajaniemi (and every US fan of science fiction).

Hannu's much hyped debut novel, THE QUANTUM THIEF, will be coming to the US next May in a Hardcover edition from Tor.

Quoting from John Jarrold's livejournal:
Susan Howe, Rights Director at Orion, has sold US rights in three novels by Finnish science fiction novelist, resident in Scotland, Hannu Rajaniemi to Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor pre-emptively, in a significant deal.

World rights in Hannu’s debut novel, THE QUANTUM THIEF, plus two further books were acquired pre-emptively by Simon Spanton of Gollancz (who publish in September 2010) from agent John Jarrold for a high five-figure sum in pounds sterling, on the basis of one chapter, in 2008. Tor will publish in hardback in May 2011.

‘I’ve known Patrick for twenty-five years and his team at Tor will do a marvellous job – Hannu and I couldn’t be happier,’ said John Jarrold.
If you don't know anything about The Quantum Thief, here's what Charles Stross had to say on the subject.
However, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I read it, and I think Hannu's going to revolutionize hard SF when he hits his stride. Hard to admit, but I think he's better at this stuff than I am. And "The Quantum Thief" is the best first SF novel I've read in many years.
And a plot summary.
Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . . The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.

Congratulations to Hannu!
The UK always seems to have a ton of quality science fiction that doesn't seem to get published accross the pond so I am glad to see that a least a few of the gems are making the trip.

Jun 24, 2010

Great News Everyone! [Futurama Premieres Tonight!]

Bender's Back Baby!

After 7 years and change, Fry, Leela, Bender, and co are back! Zoidberg, Lrrr, Morbo, Clamps, Hedonism Bot, I've missed them all.

Comedy Central picked up Futurama for an additional 26 episodes. Suppossedly, it's to be split into two 12 episode "seasons" with two specials but I haven't been able to confirm that with a source.

To be fair, I'm being a little cautious. The four direct to DVD movies were nothing special (the first was good, the rest were disappointing) but I am optimistic that that was just a result of the format and not of a lack of ideas. Futurama might just work best in 20 minute chunks not as full length feature films which allow jokes to become stale. I'm really hoping that it doesn't pull a Family Guy and devolve into a stale parody of what it once was. io9 has seen the first two episodes and they thought they were good. Not "Roswell That End's Well" or "Luck of the Fryrish" good but decent nonetheless.

They also have an interview with creator David X. Cohen who provides some information about what to expect from the new season.

If you are looking for more Futurama news, check out Got Futurama a great fansite with all the latest news.

Here is the first 90 seconds from the new season.

If you haven't watched Futurama in a while or *gasp* never watched it, here is a 7 minute video summing up the first five seasons.

Plus, the entire cast is back.

Well the voice cast at least. Although they tried to change it.

And for the sake of discussion, what's your favorite episode? Mine might have to be A Big Piece of Garbage or Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love? or The Problem with Popplers or... I forgot how much I loved this show.

And then there's my alltime favorite quote from Season 2 Episode: The Deep South. Click here to listen.

Futurama Season 6 premieres on Comedy Central at 10 PM ET / 9 CT.

I'm excited are you?

Jun 23, 2010

Covering Covers: Surface Detail - Iain M. Banks

Cover Artist: Unknown

I like the bottom half of the cover but photoshopped face doesn't do much for me. There is simply too much face.

Now, I don't know a lot about The Culture novel but I have heard they are pretty good. Here's the blurb from Iain's website:
It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful – and arguably deranged – warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war – brutal, far-reaching – is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it’s about to erupt into reality.

It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.
I haven't read any Culture novels yet. Should I?

Jun 22, 2010

Covering Covers: Out of the Dark - David Weber

Cover Artist: Unknown

David Weber is a name that anyone who frequents the SF&F section should be familiar with. Although mostly known for his bestselling Honor Harrington novels, Weber has written in almost every subgenre imaginiable. He also writes at an incredible rate, publishing at least 2 books a year. The problem is that with so many books and so many ongoing series, its hard to find a good jumping on point.

Look no further than Out of the Dark.

Weber's latest is due out this fall (Sept 28th to be exact) and while SF, it seems to have a decidedly different take on it than his other more miltary SF work. I'll let the summary speak for itself.

Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.

Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed.

His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity—but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force.

Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity…until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth.
That's right. Vampires. Aliens vs. Vampires to be exact. While that tagline sounds a bit cheesy, the concept has a lot of appeal, especially in the serious SF setting it's placed in. And I'm assuming that these aren't your little sister's vampires.

But what first caught my eye was that gorgeous cover. People familiar with Weber's work will also be familiar with the...ummm....let's say "unique" style of the Baen covers. Regardless of what you thought of those, it's hard to deny that this is an eye-catching cover. It's got a definite Hollywood blockbuster feel to it and I'm looking forward to reading it.

After all, what happens when you shoot a vampire with a ray gun?

Jun 21, 2010

Yeti Review: The Lifecycle of Software Objects - Ted Chiang

In a few words: Chiang shows signs of growing pains in his longest work to date; presenting interesting questions about artificial intelligence but refusing to provide answers.

My Rating: 3/5

Pros: Chiang is an extremely strong prose stylist, creating emotion impressively quickly; the ideas of artificial but immature intelligence are fascinating and beg for further exploration; the 144 pages read very quickly and smoothly

Cons: The sum of its parts are more than the whole; Feels like a long short story rather than a short novel; many of the most intriguing concepts are left hanging and unexplored.

The Review: Ted Chiang has earned more genre awards than he has published stories. With a reputation like that, it’s hard not to have heightened expectations for The Lifecycle of Software Objects. While only 144 pages, it also represents the the longest work of his career. Chiang's latest offering follows two human programmers and the digital sentient lifeforms they help to create. Known as digients, these programmed minds start off as a 21st century version of the Tamagotchi fad of the mid 90s. Provided sufficient empirical attention and a partially randomized “genetic” code base, these “creatures” are capable of learning not unlike a pet or small child. It is the gradual development of these digients and the way their passionate owners react to their evolution that drives the story forward.

As such, the structure of Lifecycle is basically a timeline of critical moments in those relationships. This works well at first, allowing Chiang to jump a few months or a year or two to the next interesting development. Trends change, technology advances, and the digients continue to learn, progressing gradually through a childhood of sorts. This keeps the story fresh, only touching on a concept briefly before moving on. Some highlights were the debates regarding trial and error parenting (you can roll back the digients to prior save points) and how the digients reacted to and interacted with the real world when they are provided robot bodies.

However, it’s this structure that ultimately weakens the overall success of Chiang’s novella. The story feels more like a series of interconnected short stories than a comprehensive whole. The ideas introduced at the front of the book get plenty of attention as Chiang depicts both their implementation and downstream effect but toward the end of the book there isn’t enough time for the same level of exploration. This is particularly frustrating as the digients are becoming more and more capable, reaching the point of young adulthood. So when Chiang throws open the doors on a whole new sets of issues, including independence, self realization, and sexuality, there are dozens of different avenues of exploration he could take. But rather than exploring any of these promising new elements, Chiang chooses to end the book abruptly. The story needs either more words or less words, but I couldn’t tell you which.

That’s not to say the book is without merit. Having not read Chiang before, I was very impressed with his prose. It reads very cleanly and the pages fly by effortlessly. 144 pages, while short for a novel, is still a sizeable piece of fiction. It never seemed to drag and unfortunately this may have contributed to the sudden feeling of the ending. The emotional weight Chiang imbues in his writing was equally surprising, especially how quickly I became invested in not just imaginary humans but in imaginary, hypothetical, virtual creatures.

A great example of this occurs barely twenty pages into the book. One moment the digients are exploring their digital playground with all of the boundless optimism you would expect from a child. The next they are exposed to vulgarity for the first time by a careless technician, cementing a few choice words in their limited vocabularies. Because they are being developed to be sold as virtual pets for the greater online community, they have to be rolled back, erasing their childlike experience of amazement and discovery in a heartbreaking instant. While that recollection fails to do Chiang’s work justice, the amount of innocence he is able to instill his writing is very impressive.

Much like the adolescent digients described within, The Lifecycle of Software Objects feels like something stuck in the middle. There is no denying that Chiang's prose surpasses that of more prolific writers and the story teems with emotion and speculation. But it also feels like an overly long short story and lacks the conclusions that reward readers after investing time and emotion in a longer work. Instead the readers are presented with an abrupt conclusion that resolves little and feels like a trademark short story ending placed where one doesn't belong. Chiang’s writing screams with potential and it’s only a matter of time before he overcomes his growing pains and delivers a complete work. In the meantime, the intriguing concepts and prose laden with emotion make The Lifecycle of Software Objects worthwhile provided you don’t expect to find answers to the questions Chiang poses.

Jun 19, 2010

Books Received: Early June

It's about time I started mentioning the books I've sent for review. I've reached the point where I am getting them at a faster rate than I can read them (and that's not counting the books I still buy for myself). I want to read them all (or at least 90% of them, I've gotten some strange books) but unfortunately, I just don't have the time.

So I'm going to put together a brief biweekly post to make sure the books I receive get at least some coverage here at Stomping on Yeti.

Title: Tome of the Undergates
Author: Sam Sykes
Publisher: Pyr
Edition: ARC
Release Date: September 2010
Blurb: The debut novel from an extraordinarily talented twenty-five-year-old author. Fantasy's next global star has arrived. Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

Only one book in early June (which is probably a good thing). You can see the historical list of books received here.

Jun 18, 2010

Abraham, Priest, Scalzi, and Kemp

Apparently, four of my favorite authors have decided to start a law firm together. Ok, not really. But they all have posted some book announcements and updates over the past few days. I don't know about you but substantive book news is one of my favorite things to see on author blogs.

Daniel Abraham

Daniel Abraham is one of my favorite new authors. Over at his livejournal, Daniel provides updates on not 1 but 8 of his projects, including updates on his upcoming epic fantasy series The Dagger and the Coin and his Urban Fantasy series, Black Sun's Daughter (as M.L.N. Hanover)

Here are the highlights.

Price of Spring will not be released in MMPB. IMO, Tor has made some questionable decisions lately and I guess they don't feel like pushing The Long Price Quartet now that Abraham is now going to be writing for Orbit. This angers both the bibliophile in me and the Daniel Abraham fan. The Long Price Quartet is one of the most criminally underread series published of the last 10 years and it's upsetting to see it get harder to find.

Next Abraham (or is it MLN Hanover) notes that Vicious Grace (Book 3 in Black Sun's Daughter sequence) is currently in production. While I'm not sure exactly what that means, I'd say it's safe to assume that it's on track to meet the Nov 30th publication date. Book 4, Killing Rites, is also in progress, which bodes well for the success of the series as a whole. Plus MIDIAN, the scene stealing vampire from Unclean Spirtis, will return! I'm very excited to see him rejoin the series. I thought the first two books were a lot of fun although I was a bit disappointed by the amount of development in the series arc in Darker Angels (Book 2). If you are interested in knowing more, see my reviews for Unclean Spirits and Darker Angels.

Abraham also provides a strange link to an Amazon UK entry for Leviathan Wakes by one, James S. A. Corey. I'm assuming it's another pseudonym especially given some of Daniel's comments in the interview I did with him last year. When asked if he was planning on diversifying into different subgenres, Daniel replied "Oh yes. I'd love to. I have things on the back burner for a space opera, a mystery series, and a semi-literary horror/popular science book." Could this be the space opera moved to the front burner? Very curious to learn more on this book, which is also blurbed by GRRM. GRRM is a member of Critical Mass, the same writing group to which Abraham belongs. Stay tuned on this one.

Speaking of leviathans, Abraham's Subterranean Press collection, Leviathan Wept and Other Stories, is supposedly out and available. I think I need to have a discussion with mailman.

And finally, and possibly most importantly, an update on the much anticipated The Dagger and The Coin
The first draft of The Dragon's Path is complete and has been turned in to Darren and DongWon at Orbit. They're looking it over, and I should have the revisions done shortly. It'll be out around this time next year. The first reader reactions have thus far been decent, and will, I suspect, only get better.
Where can I sign up to supply a reader reaction? There are a few other notes about short stories and comic books plus a lot more detail so head on over to Daniel's page and check it all the news.

Cherie Priest

I've never really respected Steampunk. It seemed like everyone was talking about it but no one was writing it. Can you name 5 Steampunk novels written before 2009? But now it looks like the Steampunk wave is finally rolling in and Cherie Priest is leading the way. Last year's Boneshaker earned absolutely fantastic reviews and the blogosphere is very excited for the follow-up novella Clementine and novel Dreadnought.

But it's time to get even more excited because Cherie has announced that there will be not one but two more Clockwork Century books published by Tor in the coming years. 2011 will see the release of Ganymede and 2012 will bring us Inexplicable. It looks like Steampunk is here to stay. 

Clementine also has a new cover more in tune with the grungy look of Boneshaker. If you didn't preorder the limited edition, Subterranean Press will be putting out a TPB version next year. Very cool stuff indeed.

John Scalzi

Over at Whatever, John Scalzi provides a run down on the likelihood of seeing sequels the books he's written. Here's a quick summary.
  • Old Man's War: Probable but no plans at the moment. More short stories also likely.
  • The Android's Dream: Planned but not for another book or two. As a side note, The Android's Dream is absolutely soulcrushingly fantastic if you haven't read it.
  • Agent to the Stars: Unplanned and unlikely although more modern era SF is possible.
  • The God Engine: Unplanned and unlikely. Scalzi says he might like to write 3 more stories of similar subject and length and publish as an anthology of novellas.
  • Fuzzy Nation: While this book hasn't even been released yet, Scalzi has some ideas if it ends up being a success.

If you like SF and haven't read Scalzi's work, you are doing yourself an injustice.

Paul Kemp

And lastly, over at Paul Kemp's slick new website, he made the announcement that next year's sequel to January's Croscurrent (review here) is entitled RIPTIDE. Why Riptide? Here's what Kemp had to say:
Initially, I wanted to go with something containing “cross” but couldn’t come up with something everyone liked. So I tried to find something containing “current,” but had the same problem. Finally I hit upon Riptide and everyone seemed to like that. I liked it, too, because it suggested a dangerous, unseen current that tears one away from safety and out to sea, where one is left to sink or swim, alone and bereft. Symbolically, that works quite well with the novel’s story.
Not Riptide but awesome.

Long story short, 2011 has a lot of good stuff in store for us genre readers. And that's not counting the fantasypalooza from Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Lynch and possibly even GRRM.

Jun 14, 2010

Covering Covers: Echo - Jack McDevitt

Cover Artist: John Harris (unconfirmed)

I haven't confirmed it but I suspect this is another stellar John Harris cover. Please let me know if it's not. I don't know how other people feel about the semi-abstracted spaceships and planets that frequently grace Harris's covers (Ender's Game, Zoe's Tale, Radio Freefall among others) but I'm a big fan and regardless of whether or not this is indeed his work, I love this cover. The ship also looks curiously like a fly but I'm not sure if it was intentional or not.

As a fan of highly illogical space operas, this cover would grab me from across the book store, especially with the rich red tones that are going to stand out against the rest of the SF work.

Echo is the fifth book in McDevitt's Alex Benedict series.
Eccentric Sunset Tuttle spent his life searching in vain for forms of alien life. Thirty years after his death, a stone tablet inscribed with cryptic, indecipherable symbols is found in the possession of Tuttle's onetime lover, and antiquities dealer Alex Benedict is anxious to discover what secret the tablet holds. It could be proof that Tuttle had found what he was looking for. To find out, Benedict and his assistant embark on their own voyage of discovery-one that will lead them directly into the path of a very determined assassin who doesn't want those secrets revealed.
Echo is due on November 2nd from Ace.

Jun 11, 2010

Author Nicknames

If writing were boxing, what would your favorite authors nicknames be? Off the top of my head
  • Joe "Say Fitch and Die" Abercrombie
  • Steven "Doorstop" Erikson
  • Orson "Speak Loudly and Carry a Little Doctor" Scott Card
  • Neil "Bling Bling" Gaiman
  • Cory "Creative Commoner" Doctorow
  • George "The (Eventual) Finisher" R.R. Martin
  • Bill "Don't Call Me Fairytale" Willingham
  • Jim "The Booklist" Butcher
  • J.K. "Bible-beater" Rowling
  • Matt "Tie-In Literature" Stover
  • John "The Rabid Zombie" Scalzi
  • China "The Good Weird" Mieville
  • Norman "Demon Cowboy" Partridge
  • Ted "I Win" Chiang
  • Paolo "Mr. B" Bacigalupi
  • Patrick "Baby Bunyan" Rothfuss
  • Terry "Tolkein 2.0" Brooks
  • Terry "Get Me Off This List" Goodkind
  • Scott "The Hangman" Lynch
  • Blake "Blackthorn Ale" Charlton
  • Peter "Sleeper Agent" Watts
  • Mary "Puppetmaster" Robinette Kowal
  • William "Al Gore" Gibson 
  • Alastair "The Millionaire" Reynolds
  • L. Ron "Faithmaker" Hubbard
  • Jay "Word Machine" Lake
Any others?

Jun 10, 2010

Everything You Need To Know About The Way of Kings

As every book blogger is most certainly posting, there is now an exclusive excerpt of The Way of Kings available at Tor.com. You can read it here. But here at Stomping on Yeti, I don't like just posting excerpts, so instead; I present to you all the relevant content I can find regarding The Way of Kings.

1) The Way of Kings is written by Brandon Sanderson, who previously wrote Elantris, The Mistborn Trilogy, Warbreaker, and who is currently tasked with finishing the late great Robert Jordan's Wheel of TimeSeries.

2) The Way of Kings is the first book in The Stormlight Archives, Tor's newest flagship series. Brandon Sanderson has previously posted a great spoiler-free summary of The Stormlight Archives on his own blog. If you are looking for a good summary of the scope and content of the series, definitely read this.

3) The Stormlight Archives is currently estimated to be 10 volumes long although that number comes from Tor, not Sanderson. Sanderson has said he has the entire series plotted/outlined but doesn't guarantee a number of volumes.

4) Amazon.com lists The Way of Kings at 1008 pages long and Sanderson estimated the book at about 390K words long. The standard novel length is around 100K. You will get your money's worth with this book.

5) Tor.com has posted an exclusive excerpt (about 50 pages or so) on their site here. I'm sure there will be plenty of cross posts with this everywhere.

6) The cover of The Way of Kings is up at the top, plus my thoughts if you care.

7) The publisher's description of The Way of Kings from Amazon.

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.
8) The Way of Kings will be published on August 31st, 2010.

I think that's it. The Way of Kings has been on my highly anticipated list for quite some time so I am very excited to see some actual pages.

Oh and look at this little guy. Shiny!

Jun 9, 2010

Looking for good female genre writers?

Sandra McDonald has 117 to recommend.

Excellent video and even better list.

Jun 8, 2010

Covering Covers: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

Awwww, cute little robot fetus...

July 2010 will see the release of The Lifecycle of Software Objects from Subterranean Press. At 144 pages, it's Ted Chiang's longest work to date. If you aren't aware who Ted Chiang is, he's the guy who has more major awards than he has examples of published work. Not counting Lifecycle, Chiang has published 11 stories. Those stories have won a combined 4 Nebulas, 3 Hugos, 2 Locus Awards, a Thedore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a Sideways Award, and a BSFA. Not to mention the 1992 Campbell Award for Best New Writer. 

Spoiler Alert: Chiang is a good writer.

I personally wouldn't be suprised if there is a Chiang novel out there, hidden in the same facility as the garbage powered car, the Ark of the Covenant, and the good versions of the Star Wars prequels. It can't be released for the sake of the collective dignity of science fiction authors worldwide. They just wouldn't be able to cope.

Anyway, back to The Lifecycle of Software Objects. You know why you should read it, but what would you be reading? Here's the summary:

What's the best way to create artificial intelligence? In 1950, Alan Turing wrote, 'Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child. Things would be pointed out and named, etc. Again I do not know what the right answer is, but I think both approaches should be tried.'

The first approach has been tried many times in both science fiction and reality. In this new novella, at over 30,000 words, his longest work to date, Ted Chiang offers a detailed imagining of how the second approach might work within the contemporary landscape of startup companies, massively-multiplayer online gaming, and open-source software. It's a story of two people and the artificial intelligences they helped create, following them for more than a decade as they deal with the upgrades and obsolescence that are inevitable in the world of software. At the same time, it's an examination of the difference between processing power and intelligence, and of what it means to have a real relationship with an artificial entity.
Look for a review of this one as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Jun 7, 2010

Books Received: Late May

It's about time I started mentioning the books I've sent for review. I've reached the point where I am getting them at a faster rate than I can read them (and that's not counting the books I still buy for myself). I want to read them all (or at least 90% of them, I've gotten some strange books) but unfortunately, I just don't have the time.

So I'm going to put together a brief biweekly post to make sure the books I receive get at least some coverage here at Stomping on Yeti.

Title: Twelve
Author: Jasper Kent
Publisher: Pyr
Edition: ARC
Release Date: September 2010
Blurb: Melding the supernatural and the historical, a thrilling novel of vampires set in the Napoleonic wars.

In June 1812, Napoleon's massive grande armée began its invasion of Russia, and the imperial Russian army, massively outnumbered and out maneuvered, was forced to retreat. But a handful of Russian officers — veterans of Borodino — are charged with trying to slow the enemy's inexorable march on Moscow. Helping them is a band of mercenaries from the outermost fringes of Christian Europe, known as the Oprichniki — twelve in number — who arrive amidst rumours of plague travelling west from the Black Sea. Preferring to work alone, and at night, the twelve prove brutally, shockingly, effective against the French.

But one amongst the Russians, Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, is unnerved by the Oprichniki's ruthlessness. As he comes to understand the horrific nature of these strangers, he wonders at the nightmare they've unleashed in their midst.

Title: Shadow's Son
Author: Jon Sprunk
Publisher: Pyr
Edition: Final Copy
Release Date: June 8th, 2010
Blurb: In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won't be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir's hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son . . .

That's it for the last two weeks of May. You can see the historical list of books received here.

Jun 4, 2010

How did I miss this? (Stories: All New Tales Table of Contents)

There is a somewhat genre anthology sneaking up in June entitled  Stories: All New Tales edited by genre great and all around literary hero Neil Gaiman and "master anthologist" Al Sarrantonio. I just realized it was coming out last week and only today when I was assembling my Books of June post did I find the full table of contents.

You are going to want to read this.

Blood - Roddy Doyle

Fossil-Figures - Joyce Carol Oates
Wildfire in Manhattan - Joanne Harris
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains - Neil Gaiman
Unbelief - Michael Marshall Smith
The Stars are Falling - Joe R. Lansdale
Juvenal Nyx - Walter Mosley
The Knife - Richard Adams
Weights and Measures - Jodi Picoult
Goblin Lake - Michael Swanwick
Mallon the Guru - Peter Straub
Catch and Release - Lawrence Block
Polka Dots and Moonbeams - Jeffrey Ford
Loser - Chuck Palahniuk
Samantha's Diary - Diana Wynne Jones
Land of the Lost - Stewart O' Nan
Leif in the Wind - Gene Wolfe
Unwell - Carolyn Parkhurst
A Life in Fictions - Kat Howard
Let the Past Begin - Jonathan Carroll
The Therapist - Jeffery Deaver
Parallel Lines - Tim Powers
The Cult of the Nose - Al Sarrantonio
Human Intelligence - Kurt Andersen
Stories - Michael Moorcock
The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon - Elizabeth Hand
The Devil on the Staircase - Joe Hill

I don't think I even need to say anything. I mean, wow. How are more people not talking about this?

Gaiman, Palanhiuk, Hill, Powers, Wolfe, Ford, Straub, Moorcock, and so many more...

Move over Swords and Dark Fantasy, June has a new anthology to watch out for. Stories is out June 15th from HarperCollins

Jun 3, 2010

2010-2011 Star Wars Release Calendar (with comments)

A few days ago, Lucas Licensing executive editor, Sue Rostoni updated her blog with a calendar summarizing the next two years of Star Wars tie-in fiction. Here is the condensed version, with PB reprints and other superfluous details removed.

May 25, 2010 - Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Allies by Christie Golden. Hardcover

July 6, 2010 - Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Siege by Karen Miller. Trade paperback. The second book in the Gambit duology, the first being Stealth.

July 20, 2010 - The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams. Hardcover. This is a tie-in to LucasArts' The Old Republic multi-player on-line roleplaying game.

October 5, 2010 - The Force Unleashed II by Sean Williams. Hardcover. A tie-in to LucasArts' second The Force Unleashed game.

November 2010 - Star Wars Art: Visions. Hardcover. Inspired by the films, this art book features pieces by several renowned artists

December 7, 2010 - Fate of the Jedi #6: Vortex by Troy Denning. Hardcover.

December 28, 2010 - The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp. Hardcover. A second tie-in to LucasArts' The Old Republic multi-player on-line roleplaying game

January 25, 2011 - Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber. Hardcover. Sith Zombies run amok.

February 22, 2011 - Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller. Paperback. A companion novel to the Dark Horse comic series by John Jackson Miller.

April 19, 2011 - FOTJ#7: Conviction by Aaron Allston. Hardcover.

April 26, 2011 - Holostar (working title) by Michael Reaves and Maya Bohnhoff. Paperback.

May 24, 2011 - Standalone Hardcover (featuring Nomi Sunrider) by Alex Irvine. Hardcover.

June 2011 - Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare by Jason Fry. Trade paperback. This one's been in the works for a while - we recently changed the title from The Essential Guide to the Military - "Warfare" is more appropriate to the content.

June 28, 2011 - Crosscurrent sequel (no title yet) by Paul Kemp. Paperback.

July 26, 2011 - FotJ#8: Untitled by Christie Golden. Hardcover

August 30, 2011 - Choices (working title) by Tim Zahn. Hardcover.

August 30, 2011 - Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion by Pablo Hidalgo. Trade paperback. A super guide to the novels, short stories, e-books, etc. With new illustrations of characters you've only read about. This will be organized chronologically according to in-universe dates and written out-of-universe so that it won't be like the Essential Chronology but more like a non-fiction guide to fiction, with side-bars calling out related comics and events.

This list says a few things about the direction of the Star Wars brand over the next few years. First, a welcome departure from The Clone Wars/Prequel era brand that flooded the market the past decade. Anakin and Obi-Wan have been tired, static characters for years and the debut of the kid-friendly cartoon two years ago only lowered the bar for quality content. After Karen Miller's Gambit: Siege, there isn't a single novel involving those characters.

The 2nd big push is the cross media novels surrounding the upcoming Star Wars MMORPG: The Old Republic. This is going to be the big Star Wars project over the next two years (until the debut of the live action TV show) and they are throwing a huge media net trying to capture and audience. Sean Williams kicks things off with Fatal Alliance and Paul S. Kemp (one of my favorite Star Wars authors) follows it up with DeceivedThe Old Republic is set 3,600 years before the events of A New Hope. The Jedi and the Sith both number in the thousands and are poised to go to war. Very excited to see where this goes as Lucas & Co try to duplicate the success of World of Warcraft. If you aren't excited, watch this video.

3rd thing worth noting is a relative youth movement. Alex Irvine, Paul S. Kemp, Joe Schreiber, and  are all working on either their first or second Star Wars novel. These guys are all strong writers and their fresh take on things is going to be a welcome change in the galaxy far far away. A few of the current go-to authors have some critical flaws in their writing styles and the inclusion of these three writers raises the collective talent bar. John Jackson Miller is the wildcard in the bunch, having worked primarily in the comic medium. He is writing his first full novel, Knight Errant, as a tie-in for his new comic series of the same name after doing some shorter work published electronically online and in eBook formats. JJM was the principal writer responsible for Knights of the Old Republic, the best Star Wars comic of the last 5 years, if not since Mike Stackpole and Rogue Squadron wrapped up.

Other minor notes:
  • The last 4 books in the Fate of the Jedi sequence (set 44 years after A New Hope) should be out by the end of 2011. Book 9 is the only one not on the calendar but I wouldn't be suprised to see a December release. Hopefully, the longer delay between releases will mean more cohesion and continuity between novels
  • Tim Zahn is back! Mr. Zahn is one of my favorite authors and his original Thrawn Trilogy is still the benchmark that all other SW books are measured against. The last few SW novels have been a little weak so I hope we see the return of the author that wrote Heir to the Empire not the one that penned Allegiance.
  • There are books across 7 different eras in the Star Wars canon spanning over 4,000 of fictional history. This doesn't mean a lot for non Star Wars junkies but each era is essentially a completely separate story within the same collective canon. You can read any of these eras independently of each other and understand 99% of the reference
  • The Force Unleashed II is obviously a sequel to last year's The Force Unleashed. Anyone who read the book/played the game will be curious as to how that is suppossed to work considering the ending to the first entry.
  • So many hardcovers! There is no denying that George Lucas likes his money. I have a hard time paying hardcover price for books that are barely 200 pages long. Quality beats quantity every time but no one dislikes quantity AND quality.
Anyway, it's clear that Star Wars isn't going anywhere in the next two years.

Jun 2, 2010

2 Extra Books for June

While I was making the rounds, I realized that two books slipped through the filters when I was selecting my YetiStomper Picks for June.

The first slipped by because I already picked up a limited edition from Subterranean Press. Next Tuesday, Metatropolis is being rereleased by Tor in a Hardcover format.
Five original tales set in a shared urban future—from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF

A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment...a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement...a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city...a slacker in a "zero-footprint" town gets a most unusual new job...and a weapons investigator uses his skills to discover a metropolis hidden right in front of his eyes.

Welcome to the future of cities. Welcome to Metatropolis.

More than an anthology, Metatropolis is the brainchild of five of science fiction's hottest writers—Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder, and project editor John Scalzi—-who combined their talents to build a new urban future, and then wrote their own stories in this collectively-constructed world. The results are individual glimpses of a shared vision, and a reading experience unlike any you've had before.
You can find more of my own thoughts in this Covering Covers post I did a few weeks back.

AND if you are reading this post before June 7th or so, each of the 5 authors are hosting a different contest with the same prize: a free copy of Metatropolis. John Scalzi is looking for oil-free haikus. Elizabeth Bear is looking for photoshopped,captioned screenshots from the imaginary film version of Metatropolis. Jay Lake is holding a photography contest looking for images of what your personal Metatropolis looks like. In what may be a ploy for cheap/easy research, Tobias Buckell is looking for links to interesting articles on the topic of futuristic urban revitalization. Finally, Karl Schroeder is also looking for examples of crazy urban planning but is willing to accept anecdotal evidence on your honor.

The 2nd book that somehow missed my list is Mark Charan Newton's Nights of Villjamur. Sneaking into the very end of June from Del Rey, Nights of Villjamur is a very, very, very, very, very well reviewed fantasy novel. It's been out for a year or two over in the UK and the only thing that was keeping me from importing my reading experience was the announcement that the US release was only a matter of time. While I am guilty of obtaining more than a couple of books from across the pond, if the US release date is on the calendar I will generally hold off for the sake of the authors US sales figures. I'm sure those authors appreciate it. Nights of Villjamur is Fantasy with a touch of New Weird in an urban environment.
Following in the footsteps of writers like China Miéville and Richard K. Morgan, Mark Charan Newton balances style and storytelling in this bold and brilliant debut. Nights of the Villjamur marks the beginning of a sweeping new fantasy epic.

Beneath a dying red sun sits the proud and ancient city of Villjamur, capital of a mighty empire that now sits powerless against an encroaching ice age. As throngs of refugees gather outside the city gates, a fierce debate rages within the walls about the fate of these desperate souls. Then tragedy strikes—and the Emperor’s elder daughter, Jamur Rika, is summoned to serve as queen. Joined by her younger sister, Jamur Eir, the queen comes to sympathize with the hardships of the common people, thanks in part to her dashing teacher Randur Estevu, a man who is not what he seems.

Meanwhile, the grisly murder of a councillor draws the attention of Inspector Rumex Jeryd. Jeryd is a rumel, a species of nonhuman that can live for hundreds of years and shares the city with humans, birdlike garuda, and the eerie banshees whose forlorn cries herald death. Jeryd’s investigation will lead him into a web of corruption—and to an obscene conspiracy that threatens the lives of Rika and Eir, and the future of Villjamur itself.

But in the far north, where the drawn-out winter has already begun, an even greater threat appears, against which all the empire’s military and magical power may well prove useless—a threat from another world.
Additionally, if you aren't reading Mark's blog you are doing yourself a disservice. Mark has all kinds of interesting discussions and is very engaged with his readers and the blogosphere as a whole.

Anyway, my apologies for missing those two books. Be sure to check them out as well as all of the picks for June.

Jun 1, 2010

YetiStomper Picks for June

Summer returns to the northern hemisphere this month and that typically coincides with a sizeable offering of new books. Publishers know that people are looking for books to take on vacation or to the beach so they flood shelves trying to get attention. As expected, June brings no fewer than twelve books of interest to this YetiStomper.

Kraken - China Mieville

Stand-alone Novel. With last year's excellent but bizzare Urban Fantasy The City and The City and next year's SF Embassytown, Mieville is diversifying his writer portfolio in an number of interesting directions. Kraken, which I believe is already out in the UK, continues that trend. I would try to sum up the plot here, but I don't know where to start. Disappearing Squids, Embryonic Gods, Prehistoric Cults, Sorceror Cops, Billy, Serial Killers, Egyptian Spirits, Londonmancers and more. From everything I've read, it's bizzare and hilarious and scary and just plain awesome. But forget all that, the key word on the cover is Mieville. If you haven't read any of his stuff, you are seriously missing out. Mieville belongs in the same ranks as Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon and it's only a matter of time until he is recognized as such. (June 29th from Del Rey)

The Passage - Justin Cronin

Stand-alone novel. The Passage is suppossedly THE BOOK off the summer. I've been hearing about this one since before I knew what it was about and the massive marketing campaign that Ballantine is putting will push The Passage to the top of the charts. From early reviews, it sounds like the writing and story would have done that anyway. With Starred Reviews from Publisher's Weekly and comparisons to early Stephen King work, this sorta-vampire tale is poised to blow up. While not traditional vampires, The Passage features a bizarre virus is turning people into bloodthirsty monsters in a America on the brink of apocalypse. Like last year's The Strain, The Passage is promising a return to the horrific vampire monster after years of emo, lovesick, bloodbrooders. (June 8th from Ballantine)

Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor

Stand-alone novel. While fairly well known for her YA novels, Nnedi Okorafor is a name you may not have heard of. But you should have, and you probably will soon. Okorafor is a writer of Nigerian descent who composes beautiful stories replete with African culture and evocative prose. With a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, Who Fears Death is a post-apocalyptic tale set in Africa concerning a young sorceress who must die in order to help her people. If you are looking to push your boundaries and read something atypical for a change, this might be your book. (June 1st from DAW)

Terminal World - Alastair Reynolds

Stand-alone novel. Some would call Alastair Reynolds the biggest name in British SF and I'd be hard pressed to prove them wrong. Terminal World is the latest is Reynolds grand adventures and focuses on a far-future cop pathologist residing in the last human refuge. When a posthuman "angel" crashes to the ground, Quillon must leave the relative normalcy of his city behind to solve the mystery. (June 1st from Ace)

Stories: All-New Tales - Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, eds.

Genre Anthology. Do you like Neil Gaiman's work? Or Gene Wolfe? Joe Hill? Michael Moorcock? What about Peter Straub? Tim Powers? If you said no to all of those authors, do us all a favor and go back to watching American Idol 26 and CSI: Indianapolis because you are obviously don't have a soul or an imagination. Seriously, who crapped all over your childhood? But I digress. This anthology features one of the most impressive line-ups I've ever seen in a single anthology. Half of the authors are so good that the book store pretends their work isn't actually science fiction/fantasy and shelves it with the "real" books. There is no general theme to the anthology but all stories have a fantastical element to them. Get this now. (June 15th from William Murrow)

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery - Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, eds.

Themed Genre Anthology. Unlike Stories, Swords & Dark Magic is one that has been on my radar for a long while and been on my hypothetical most anticipated list since I first heard of it. Anders and Strahan set out to create a collection of stories promoting the new wave of Sword and Sorcery fiction that has been washing over the genre in the past few years. With an introduction entitled "Check Your Dark Lord at the Door" you get a sense that S&S 2.0 is both building on and surpassing the tropes of the past. With newer authors such as Joe "Say Fitch and Die" Abercrombie, Steven "Doorstop" Erikson, and Bill "Don't Call Me Fairytale" Willingham and established greats like Gene "Before You Were Born" Wolfe, Michael "I invented the sub-genre" Moorcock and Robert "Grand Master" Silverberg, this is a impressive line-up. I would probably buy this for the Abercrombie story alone but I don't think there is a bad author in the bunch. You can find the full table of contents here. (June 22 from Eos)

The Ware Tetralogy - Rudy Rucker

Omnibus Collection. The Ware Tetralogy is an omnibus edition of the four books in Rudy Rucker's classic cyberpunk series: Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware. Concerning the evolution of artificial intelligence and it's bid to take over humanity, this set of books could be considered one of the first books concerning post-human evolution. (June 1 from Prime Books)

Shadow's Son - Jon Sprunk

Shadow Saga, Book 1. Is there anything cooler than a freelance assassin? If there was, it's dead by now. Shadow's Son is Sprunk's novel debut and a book his agent sold as "Batman Begins" as a fantasy novel. The protagonist, Caim "makes his living on the edge of a blade" but he is soon "thrust into the middle of an insidious plot". Shadow's Son is furious and fun fantasy, ready to be devoured on a day at the beach or during a rainy summer day. (June 8th from Pyr)

The Map of All Things - Kevin J. Anderson

Terra Incognita, Book 2. Tie-In legend Kevin J. Anderson returns with the 2nd book in his Terra Incognita sequence. Marketed as an "epic fantasy of sailing ships, crusading armies, sea monsters and enchanted islands", the series is a exciting blend of Pirates of the Caribbean and your favorite fantasy series. I liked the originality of the first book, The Edge of the World and the combination of exploration and full-out war brings something new to the table. The series is also of interest because each book has a companion sound track. (June 21 from Orbit)

The Left Hand of God - Paul Hoffman

Unnamed Trilogy, Book 1. I'm reluctant to include The Left Hand of God on this list but I kept it because I feel it's still worth mentioning. I've seen extremely mixed reviews on this one and a whole lot of hype so I'm not really sure what to believe. The blurb makes the book seem very intriguing so I would recommend checking that out at the very least. This may be one of those love it or hate it type books so read at your own risk. (June 15th from Dutton)

Redemption in Indigo - Karen Lord

Stand-alone novel. Barbadian author Karen Lord gains a starred review with her debut novel from Small Beer Press. Another comfort zone embiggener, I'm definitely interested in checking out my first taste of Caribbean Lit. Based on the reviews and descriptions this has the same adult fairy tale vibe that you might expect from Neil Gaiman or Susanna Clarke. "Lord’s world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals, inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale, will feel instantly familiar—but Paama’s adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original." (June 1st, Small Beer Press)

The Queen of Sinister - Mark Chadbourn

The Dark Age, Book 2. Chadbourn continues his tale of a postapocalyptic Britain devastated by the return of myth and magic in the 2nd book of The Dark Age trilogy in the larger Age of Misrule universe. A must read for anyone who has read the other books. If you grew up fascinated by mythology and legend like I did than you will most likely be captivated by this series. (June 3rd from Pyr)

Although there is plenty to choose from, I have to declare Kraken my YetiStomper Pick for June. Mieville is just that good. Nnedi Okorafor gets follow up honors for the YetiStomper Sort-off Debut for June in Who Fears Death. Even if she weren't a fantastic author, the book would be worth reading just because of the boundary expanding content. But you know you better than I do, read the descriptions and see what sounds good to you. Maybe you want some cyberpunk or some sword and sorcery, who am I to judge? Anyway, as always, if you are interested in more details regarding any of the above books, just click on through the Amazon links. I'm more interested in telling you why I recommended them rather than simply what the books are about. Let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments. And which one of these covers is your favorite? My vote goes again to Kraken. Although I also really like The Ware Tetralogy and the quirkiness of Stories.

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here
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